(Available for PlayStation4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC )
(PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions due out at a later date)
(PC version used for review)
Little Nightmares 2 is the sequel to Indie Horror Puzzle Platformer Little Nightmares which saw you play as a small child navigating a dark world being hunted by grotesque giant adults hunting them down. I played the original in prep for this review and it is really worth a go, It’s only 4 hours long (not including DLC) which I did in 2 sittings. The sequels doesn’t really change up much, it’s the same physics and environmental based puzzles as before but the major differences being some limited combat and the fact you’re joined by the kid from the first game as a partner so if you played the first one you know what to expect though you will have a few surprises
- Longer game time: the original game can feel over before it’s even begun with its run time of 4 hours without the DLC but in the case of the sequel we have a rise to 6 hours of game time which is a great improvement. I still beat it quite quickly in a few sittings but I appreciated more time to take everything which made it feel like more of a complete game
- Larger variety of environments: in the original game the environments were a bit more limited with the setting being confined to a prison and then a ship but in this game the majority of the game takes place in a dark city which allows for more varieties of environments like a school, a hospital and even some rather experimental environments. But it’s not just the variety of environments that has been improved it’s also the way you explore those environments has improved which allows for way more gameplay possibilities particularly in better use of the contrast between the foreground and background for puzzles and enemy encounters. And the atmosphere is amazing there’s been very few games that can give a sense of dread all around like this one but it now more than ever feels like we’ve been transported into an actual nightmare with the City backdrop having very wonky and foreboding outlines, a dark fog broken only by minimal light mostly coming from abandoned televisions broadcasting just static as well as how freaky the enemy designs are (more on that later). You have to experience this game for yourself to truly feel how subtly frightening it is.
- Gameplay: the gameplay is still great, like the first one the platforming is very physics based and does bear similarities to the Little Big Planet games which is hardly surprising given the studio that developed the game “Tarsier Studios” helped with the development of those games. I actually found the gameplay was way more forgiving this time and the controls have actually improved in many ways with a lot of the frustration I felt in the first game from some wonky depth perception. Combat is not something you’ll be doing a lot but it’s used in some sequences by adding a timing factor to it to keep up the tension effectively.
- Graphics: I played the PC version and once you get this game up to 4K the graphics really excel themselves. a game like this requires excellent lighting effects and it truly delivers on that front it also seems like there’s been a major improvement in the way textures have been rendered though I will admit I played the first game on the Switch and have now moved on to the PC version so obviously I’m playing on more powerful hardware however I am aware many people agree saying that there has been graphical improvements between games. In regards to the graphics on the Switch version which is obviously not as powerful as the other consoles while it doesn’t look bad it doesn’t show off the graphics too well from what I’ve seen especially when playing handheld
- Switch version has major improved load times: while I haven’t played the Switch version of 2, I have it on good authority that the ridiculously long load times the first game had are gone in the sequel which is a vast improvement.
- Monster design: wow I thought the enemies were scary in the first game they are down right petrifying in this game. I don’t want to spoil all of them but one example that’s been in all the advertising is the teacher than can stretch her neck out to grab you and fans of Doctor Who will appreciate the Mannequins that can only move in the darkness and will only cease moving when you shine a flashlight on them. A lot of real effort has gone into their design which once again give you a feel of being a small part of a frightening huge world
- Story is great up until the ending: the story follows new character Mono who rescues first game character Six and together they try to escape the city they are trapped in. Now there once again is no dialogue and much of the game is open to interpretation but it does a really good job really building up the settings and the characters but the ending while apt is also kind of confusing at first. I’ve heard plenty of theories that explain the ending and I would subscribe to either Nitro Rad’s theory or the various theories eluded to in the brilliant pieces of animation created online for YouTube which you should check out. But if you prefer less speculative plots this won’t change your mind on that.
- Collectables: the collectables have improved from the first game where they really only existed for compeltionists. There’s the hats which are entirely cosmetic for Mono to wear but there’s also the static ghosts of children to collect and getting them all does give you an extra ending. While the collectables are better implemented they still feel a bit like padding though I do appreciate the greater reward. My bigger problem is that some of the collectable hats for Mono are DLC or entirely pre order bonuses which you cannot obtain in the game or purchase for extra though they still show up in the menu of collectables as missing. You don’t need to purchase these to get all the Trophies/Achievements in the game however I don’t feel the game communicates that well enough
- Final segment: this was torture, I don’t want to spoil the last segment of the game for plot reasons however what I will say is up to that point the game had puzzles which were challenging but not impossible. With this particular puzzle I have no idea how I solved I just seemed to succeed at random, it took me most of about 30-40 minutes and drove me insane and really soured the experience. I’m sure someone will explain it to me but I don’t think without repeat playthroughs you can figure it out and I’ve seen multiple let’s Play Youtubers and Twitch Streamers also have the same level of confusion as me which is why I’m confident writing it down without the risk of being accused of being an idiot that didn’t get it
- Limited replay ability: once again I hope there’s really good DLC on the way because it’s another experience where the only real replay value is getting all the collectables and the sense of dread is lessened with each playthrough when you know ahead of time what you’re up against. This should be fixed with future DLC.
- No co-op: with the amount Mono and Six interact with one another you’d think this game would have a 2 player function but it’s surprisingly absent and feels like a missed opportunity.
Little Nightmares 2 is a genuine improvement over its original in many ways. It’s why it’s a shame that it falls down at the last hurdle with its final segments. Still if you want a great puzzle platformer and a great horror experience you really should buy this it’s great experience in every other regard. The gameplay feels really improved and everything feels like the developers looked at the first game and looked at expanding their scope to deliver a terrifying experience. It is a one off experience with low replay value. however the £25 price tag seems fair for the amount of game you’re getting. I did find some segments frustrating but they were few and far between and the atmosphere this game give off is amazing. If you have the ability to play this with headphones that have 3D audio features take advantage it adds a whole new level to the experience.
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